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Community-Based Learning

Community Members and Drexel Students walking in a Philadelphia Street

In the College of Arts and Sciences unique Community-Based-Learning courses, students don’t just study the issues affecting the world — they study alongside the people affected. In Prison Society and You, students attend class in the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility alongside prison inmates, creating a dialogue about crime and justice between those outside and inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. In Urban Farming Communities, students learn how to plant and maintain an urban green space at a West Philadelphia farm where they volunteer each week. In Hospice Journaling, students create life journals for hospice patients to help ailing individuals create a lasting record of their life for their loved ones. And in Connections in Biology, students teach in an after-school science club at a local middle school on topics ranging from microbiology to genetics.

Community-Based-Learning courses are offered in three formats: side-by-side, community hybrid and service learning. Side-by-side courses create a co-learning environment in which Drexel students and community members take classes together. Community hybrid courses are composed entirely of Drexel students and are split between the classroom and community. Service learning courses require service in the community in addition to students’ credit hours in the classroom.


  • ACHIEVEability
  • Art Sanctuary
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • City of Philadelphia
  • Crossroads Hospice
  • Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility
  • Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships
  • Enterprise Center
  • Freire Charter School
  • Philadelphia Juvenile Justice Services Center School Program
  • Ivan "Pick" Brown Memorial Foundation Inc.
  • Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association
  • LIFT - Philadelphia
  • Locke Elementary School
  • Mantua Senior Residence
  • Moder Patshala
  • Philabundance
  • Project for Nuclear Awareness
  • Spells Writing Lab, Inc.
  • The Veterans Group
  • U.C. Green, Inc.
  • Urban Tree Connection
  • Usiloquy Dance Designs
  • West Philadelphia Financial Services


For the most current list of available courses, visit the Lindy Center for Civic Engagement.


Prison, Society and You (CJS 261.001)

Course Description:

This course utilizes the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program to explore the relationship between individuals and the prison system. The Inside-Out Exchange Program is an evolving set of projects that creates opportunities for dialogue between those on the outside and those on the inside of the nation’s correctional facilities. The program demonstrates the potential for dynamic collaborations between institutions of higher education and correctional institutions. Most importantly, through this unique exchange, Inside-Out an this course seeks to deepen the conversation- and transform ways of thinking about crime and justice (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004).

Course Goal and Mission:

At the most basic level, this course and program allows students to go behind the walls to reconsider what they have learned about crime and justice, while those on the inside are encouraged to place their life experiences in a larger framework. Students will exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, corrections and imprisonment. It is a chance for all participants to gain a deeper understanding of the criminal justice system through the marriage of theoretical knowledge and practical experience achieved by weekly meetings and extended throughout the semester. (Crabbe, Pompa, 2004).

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Cyndi Rickards, EdD, meets Thursdays, 1:00 – 3:50 p.m., at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Permission of instructor is required for registration. Email for more information.

Composition and Rhetoric III, Thematic Analysis Across Genres: Create Dangerously: ENGL 103

To create today is to create dangerously. Any publication is an act, and that act exposes one to the passions of an age that forgives nothing.” - Albert Camus, “Resistance, Rebellion and Death: Essays”

This course will introduce you to a fascinating land: Haiti. We will be reading short stories written by Haitian authors and learning various fictional techniques to aid us in discussing the works. The theme for this course is “Create Dangerously,” (a term first used by the existential philosopher, Albert Camus) refers to the situation in which many writers in exile or international writers find themselves when subject to despotic governments. One question we will ask ourselves is, does the act of writing itself require all writers to take personal risks? We will also read Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which will be interesting in light of Haiti’s colonial history and comparing it to A Tempest, which is a post colonial version of Shakespeare’s original text. We will assume a writerly approach, which takes into consideration the various fictive techniques and genres and sources that aid a writer in producing text, including political, historical, cultural, social and personal events.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Harriet Millan, meets Wednesdays, 6:00 – 8:50 p.m., on the Drexel University City Campus.

Philadelphia Stories, ENGL 360-003

In this CBL course, we will be reading fiction and nonfiction written by contemporary African American authors who have called Philadelphia their home, and whose work addresses issues of cultural identity, education and agency. Students will explore such themes as the legacy of slavery, urban violence, gender issues, and interracial relations as they relate to identity, and will be asked to respond to the readings in both personal and analytical ways, reflecting on the connections between the texts and their own experiences. Format: group discussions; in-class writing; films and other audio-visual materials; writing assignments.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Gabriella Ibieta, PhD, meets Thursdays, 5:00 – 7:20 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Nonprofit Brand Management, COM T380 002

This course examines how to effectively use public relations and marketing to bring people to and connect people within nonprofit organizations. Through a civic engagement experience at UConnect, students will have an opportunity to actively work with UConnect clients and use that experience to create powerful, values-based language to reach out to a wide audience of community members and supporters. The final project will include documents that will be used by UConnect to promote their work among students, faculty, staff, donors and alumni.

Course includes 1 hour of class time and 3 hours of service each week.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Danie Greenwell, meets Mondays, 2:00 – 4:50 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

The Privilege of Aginng, BIO T280

The Privilege of Aging is a Hybrid Community-Based Course that is open to Biology students. Aging is often thought of as a negative process, however there are important benefits that are largely uncelebrated. Students in this course will explore the privilege of aging and ways to do it well with senior members of the Philadelphia community. There will be 2 class meetings each week, one on campus and one at a designated senior citizen facility. In addition to the academic underpinnings of the biology of aging, the course will provide the students with intergenerational interactions, as well as opportunities to connect the experience with their academic path at Drexel and their future professional plans.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Meshagae Hunte-Brown, PhD, meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Story Medicine, Eng 103 Section 400

Drexel students will go into the Ryan Seacrest Studio at CHOP to lead CHOP patients in innovative and fun fiction writing exercises. These studio sessions will be broadcast throughout the hospital so that children who can’t come down to the studio can still participate. Drexel students will also write their own flash fiction and will critique each other’s stories. This course aims to introduce Drexel students to introductory storytelling and story-writing techniques. This course also aims to introduce students to the hospital as a vibrant nexus of learning and healing while at the same time utilizing student and patient imagination to create an experiential narrative that can have lasting impact on all involved. Story Medicine takes as its guiding principal that kids are kids first, and that illness is ancillary to the human condition. This is a community-based hybrid and will meet one day at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and one day on campus.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Nomi Eve, meets Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. – 12:20 p.m., at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Drexel University City campus.

Technical Editing: COM570-900/420-900

Editors have a challenging job because their work can invoke in their writers a wide range of feelings: from indifference to resentment. For this reason editors must understand not just the process of correcting and revising the written word, but also the politics and psychology of working with writers and clients. Through studying the current state of the art of editing, examining case studies of professional editorial settings, and serving as practicing editors for local nonprofit organizations, students in this course will explore within the field of editing such topics as:

  • Editorial functions and responsibilities
  • Readers and uses of documents
  • The editor—writer relationship
  • The editor's methods and tools
  • The differences among proofreading, copyediting, and comprehensive editing
  • Legal and ethical issues in editing

Objectives: If you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:

  • describe the pragmatic dimensions of scientific and technical settings within which editors must operate
  • identify the appropriate editing strategies for specific professional settings, documents, and writers
  • exercise competence at proofreading, copyediting, and comprehensive editing
  • describe some of the common ethical and legal concerns that editors must confront

This 3.0 credit online course is taught by Lawrence Sounder, PhD.

Life is Beautiful: WRIT 304 130

This community partnership course links memoir with life, story-telling, and dying. Specifically, the course partners students with local hospice patients to co-create a life-story for the patient and his or her family. Students learn interviewing, listening, and writing techniques as well as skills in analysis and presentation. Additionally, the course facilitates interactions with the community and helps students to see themselves as linked to a community outside of college.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Ken Bingham, meets Thursdays, 3:30 – 4:50 p.m., at the various hospice locations.

Connections in Biology: BIO 200

This is an open enrollment course which gives students the opportunity to make exactly that: connections. Building upon a new theme in biology each week, students connect that material to their current Philadelphia community as well as to their future professional and personal pursuits. The course is designed on the Community Based Learning platform (CBL) and is scheduled to meet twice a week: one meeting will be a formal class period on campus and one meeting will be at a partnered middle school with the instructor and Drexel students leading a 9 week after school science club.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Monica Togna, PhD, is designated open enrollment and will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:30 – 4:50 p.m. Location TBD. For more information, contact the instructor at

History of Philadelphia: HIST 276

This course surveys the history of Philadelphia through pre-colonial, colonial, and industrial eras to the present day. Philadelphia is investigated as an economic, social, cultural, and political center. Students read primary and secondary sources, and conduct original research into Philadelphia's history. Lectures and discussions are complemented by on-site historical investigations.

This 3.0 credit course, taught by Scott Gabriel Knowles, PhD, meets Tuesdays, 3:00 – 4:50 p.m., at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

Housing Politics: PSCI T280 001; HIST T280 004

Housing is an essential human need, an enduring political issue, and a timely sociotechnical problem that many U.S. cities struggle to address. This Philadelphia-based course engages with local housing issues by taking into account how policy, design, and political economic legacies shape the current landscape. We will learn about the history of U.S. housing, noting how cities developed with regional differences; national policy will be used to frame comparative analysis. Philadelphia and its neighborhoods will serve as our case study. Students will learn how housing developed alongside industry, greenspaces, race, ethnic, and class politics, as well as public health mandates. As a hybrid course, half of our weekly class time will be spent meeting and learning about housing issues from local organizations. Some issues include vacant lot projects, homelessness, zoning, gentrification, healthy homes programs, energy efficiency, and debates over how to address aging housing stock. Course work will include weekly ethnographic journals, and a class research project that translates into community resources.

This 4.0 credit course, taught by Alison Kenner, PhD, meets Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. – 11:50 p.m., at multiple locations.

Community Engagement: ANTH T480

Students will engage in ethnographic research as a basis for anthropological knowledge. Students will explore cultural perspectives and social processes in relation to building community capacity with a focus on participatory research in learning about evaluation as a cultural system. In addition to classroom lectures and group discussions, students will engage with community residents through our partner program, UConnect, during the course of the term. As a community hybrid course, students will meet M 3:30-4:20 pm in class, and schedule an additional two hour shift with UConnect on T, W or Th 1:00-3:00 p.m. or 3:00-5:00 p.m. each week of the term. In order to participate in the course, students have to attend a one-time three hour training on Monday, March 28 from either 2:00-5:00 p.m. or 5:00-8:00 p.m. Thereafter, the course schedule is 3:30-4:20 p.m. with two additional hours TBA.

This 4.0 credit course, taught by Jenna Musket, PhD, and meets at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

What Students Are Saying About Community-Based Learning

“The Inside-Out Prison Exchange course was by far the most memorable class I took at Drexel. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to open up a greater diversity of thought. Two years later, I still reflect on the lessons I learned and how the class transformed my way of thinking about crime and justice.” — Stephanie Takach, BS Communication ’12

"The opportunities offered in community-based learning at Drexel were the most rewarding and significant aspects of my education. They not only enabled me to get involved with the surrounding community of West Philadelphia and opened my eyes to the hardships that inner-city individuals experience, but they also offered the chance to undertake a more robust social science project that utilized my ethnographic skills. Doing this kind of research made me more excited about anthropological work and gave me a sense of being involved in the discipline. As a result of all of these factors, I will never forget how lucky I am to have had the opportunity to take part in this work." — Peter Knepper, BA Anthropology '11

“As an anthropology major, I gained a great deal of real research experience and learned a lot about core sociological concepts through community-based-learning courses. While volunteering, I was able to see the impact I can make on my community and I had the opportunity to interact with people whom I would never normally be able to talk to. Through these incredible interactions, I learned the importance of a symbiotic relationship. As much as I have been helping those in need, they have been helping me. Their knowledge and experience has taught me so much and has made me grow immensely." — Nora Meighan, BA Anthropology '14

"I can't put into words how amazing this course was and how it affected my life as a whole… The way in which the course brought together such a diverse group of people and showed us all that we are all the same, was life changing. I am forever grateful for the experiences I have had and the people I have met in this class. I will never forget it." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"Through this course I was able to travel outside of my comfort zone physically and mentally. It enabled me to not only meet community members, but also to get to know each and everyone one of them on a personal level." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course

"I loved this class. I enjoyed being off campus and with a diverse group of students." — Student on course evaluation for Talk'n the Walk Course